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Latest From the Blog

Reverie

Reverie
written and performed by Reynold Philipsek

John Mc Laughlin is a composer and guitarist I admire very much. Mc Laughlin is a little over ten years older than myself and is someone that I only admire more as time goes on. His playing and composing gets better with time and his prolific energy is amazing. Either his daily meditation or his idyllic home in Monaco accounts for his continued productivity. His records just keep getting better. Mr. Mc Laughlin insists that the writing of music cannot be forced. Either it comes freely or it doesn’t come. This has been my experience as well. Still, the need to create something new persists whether the inspiration flows or not. At such times I peruse my back catalog of music. Although I have written at least 233 pieces or songs (according to the BMG listings) only about 30 of my original compositions are active at any one time in my live performance repertoire.

Recently I resurrected a piece of mine written in 2006 called “Reverie.”

“Reverie” appeared on the first East Side album. While I like that version well enough I have always had the nagging feeling that the tempo was a little slow. I have always enjoyed improvising on the chord changes of this piece and I had also recently found some new ways to approach that angle as well. Since I am looking to refresh my original song list for the many summer gigs I have coming up, the idea of redressing Reverie has become a priority. As usual I demo a tune first. This is the updated concept of Reverie. Reverie is one of three tunes I wrote under the influence of Astor Piazzolla. Like the other two tango-oriented songs I wrote (“Astoria” and “Tango Blue”) “Reverie” makes liberal use of the 3-3-2 rhythm of Nuevo Tango.

To listen to the new demo of this track, click here.

Quixote

QuixoteWritten and performed by Reynold Philipsek, copyright 2017, available as a complimentary download on the Free MP3s page.

The 17th Century Spanish tale by Miguel de Cervantes of Don Quixote and his adventures has inspired many artists. Both Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam spent considerable time, money and energy shooting miles of film to no avail or a completed film on the subject.

For more than 15 years I have entertained the idea of writing an “episodic” piece about this prototypical “hidalgo.”

During my recent six weeks in Naples I finally began to write this music.

In keeping with the Spanish theme of the central character I have utilized two distinct Spanish dance rhythms- The “guajira” (a bar of 6/8 followed by a bar of 3/4) and a Tango/Habanera rhythm.

There are three resting pedal points which can be seen as transitional (scene changes). These three “pedals” are C, D and E. The piece could easily be extended further by continuing these pedals in whole tones 4 more steps (G flat, A flat, B flat) to once again return to C.

Another objective was to bend standard song forms and to create an extended piece of music that has not only prescribed themes and movements but places for improvisation. Though this version is done on solo acoustic guitar (with synth drone pedals) ideally I would like to play the piece this summer with both of my trios (East Side and Sidewalk Cafe). The drones could easily be handled on arco upright bass.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Don Quixote was a hidalgo who read so many chivalric romances that he loses his grip on reality and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs and bring justice to the world. Cervantes tells this tale with much humor and pathos.

Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)

I am currently reading Lipatti by Dragos Tanasescu and Grigore Bargauanu. It is the only English biography based on the life of Romanian pianist and composer Dinu Lipatti and it has long been out of print. I managed to find a used library copy for sale at Amazon.
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950) died at the tragically early age of 33 from Hodgkins Lymphoma. That disease was not as treatable in those days as it is now.

Though Lipatti is mainly known among classical pianists for a handful of great records like his recording of Ravel’s Alborado del gracioso and the album of the complete Chopin Waltzes he put together the summer before he passed on. His last concert was also recorded only three months before his death when he was so weak he could barely stand. That recording is also considered a “classic” it is called The Besancon Recital (1950).

He is much less known as a composer but recently the people who manage dinulipatti.com located some radio transcription recordings from the late 1940’s. Now it is possible to hear Lipatti’s compositions such as Concertino in Classical Style, Symphonie concertante, Les Tziagnes and Romanian dances. These recording (though rather rough considering the source) are great to hear because Lipatti himself plays the piano parts on many. They can be found at iTunes and on Youtube.

He truly was one of the last virtuoso pianist/composers. Prokofiev, who died three years later, was probably the very last. His music both as a performer and composer is well worth hearing.

 

 

Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929)

These past three weeks on hiatus, I have also been reading Diaghilev (a life) by Sjeng Scheijen.

Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929) is the historically famous impresario of the Ballets Russes. He was flamboyant and openly gay at a time when this was not generally accepted even in Paris in the 1920’s. Under his commission, the greatest of 20th century composers wrote ballets for him.
Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre,” Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe,” and more than a few ballets by Prokofiev were among those commissions.  A grand life led by a bigger than life character.

There is a movie from the 1980 that essayed Diaghilev’s work and relationship with the famous and tragic ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky. The movie is called “Nijinsky,” and stars Alan Bates as Sergei Diaghilev, and George de la Pena as Nijinsky.

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